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Inside Out 2 Review: A Sequel Tailored for Gen Z

Puberty and Other Disasters: The Adventure of Growing Up in Pixar's Sequel. Less groundbreaking than the original but captivating and profound, with irresistible moments and heart-wrenching scenes (the arc of Anxiety).
Inside Out 2 (2024)

MOVIE REVIEWS

Inside Out 2 (2024)
Directed by Kelsey Mann

Inside Out achieved what all films aspire to do: not just embed itself in the collective imagination but actively shape it. It accomplished something unprecedented by entering the mind of a person (Riley, a preadolescent), giving form to emotions (the five basic ones), and showcasing the development of a personality through an educational adventure. As one of Pixar’s industrial, artistic, intellectual, and commercial pinnacles, designed for children yet appealing to all audiences and used to explain psychological elements to the young, it found a sequel only nine years after the original’s release (with Kelsey Mann replacing Pete Docter as director). This speaks to the challenge of replicating its golden balance (inner journey, sci-fi allusion, coming-of-age, dramedy intensity, stylization).

Everything was predictable: Riley is growing up, she has turned thirteen, she’s forming friendships, and she’s ready to start high school. That’s how life works: it continues. The only ones who didn’t account for this were Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, her five basic emotions, who are completely unprepared when the “Puberty” alarm blares in their headquarters. Suddenly, new emotions like Anxiety, Envy, Ennui (boredom, in French), and Embarrassment emerge, making the space too small, especially because one of them, Anxiety, is so convinced that Riley needs to change that it pushes out both the five original emotions and the “sense of self” that had been painstakingly built by combining memories and feelings.

Inside Out 2 follows two main threads: on one side, there is the struggle to reclaim territory by those who have been displaced. Joy and her companions navigate a vault escape (notable is the encounter with Bloofy, a two-dimensional character from early childhood educational programs, a “repressed” memory of young Riley), face challenges (like discovering sarcasm, crossing the broccoli stream of consciousness, and the parade of dream works), and attempt to return home. On the other side, the story depicts the difficulty of crossing the “shadow line,” with Anxiety emerging as a dramatic character (the pre-finale climax is heart-wrenching) that defines the novel and mysterious horizon of fears, expectations, excitements, and torments emblematic of Riley’s age (with a touching “premonition” of panic).

This sequel is tailored for Gen Z but also serves as an instructive example of an internal coming-of-age story, a journey aiming for inclusion and integration rather than the separation and absolutism advocated by Anxiety (the film itself embraces its coming-of-age narrative). Less groundbreaking and daring than the original (the key concept is now accessible to everyone), Inside Out 2 is a captivating and profound expansion of a potentially infinite universe (reminded by adult emotions), where even the surrounding elements work well, with allegories (the rain of ideas), symbols (the spheres), and cameos (notably the enormous Deep Dark Secret and the memorable Nostalgia, a future emotion).

Lorenzo Ciofani

Cinematografo, June 17, 2024

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